Title: Historical Researcher
Location: New Mexico
Education: Coursework Toward BS in Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley; BS in Engineering Science, Arizona State University; MBA, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA; Coursework Toward Master’s Degree in History, Utah State University
Career History: Self-Employed Historical Researcher (1987-Present); Systems Analyst, Bourns Inc. (1977-1987); Owner, Diablo Data Service, Inc., Concord, CA
Bill Lee, Historical Researcher, has been recognized as a Marquis Emerging Leader for their contributions and achievements in the field of research.
Despite excelling in the information systems industry for up to 30 years—including as a systems analyst for Bourns, Inc. and the owner of Diablo Data Service, Inc.—Mr. Lee searched for more challenging work when he made the decision to quit and focus on work that interested him, such as history, genealogy, and websites. It was on his 50th birthday that he left his old work life behind, and dedicated himself to working 12-hour days on passion projects in his role as a self-employed historical researcher.
Driven by a primary passion for baseball, Mr. Lee and his late second wife, LaVonne (Fodge) Lee—who worked with him in his research before her passing in 2020—spent years traveling the country in search of information on baseball players who had been in a major league game between 1876 and 2004 through old photos and newspaper articles that were written about them (mostly obituaries). He was curious about the life of baseball players after they retired, and dedicated much of his research to obituaries, which served as the primary source for tracking the activities of athletes following their departure from the sport. He wrote, “During his playing career, a baseball player’s every action on the field is documented – every at-bat, every hit, every pitch. But what becomes of a player after he leaves the game? Unlike other professions, the baseball player’s career is over at an age when most other careers are just beginning. What did the ballplayers of the past do with the rest of their lives after their short time in the limelight was over?”
The years of research culminated in the publishing of his 2004 book, “The Baseball Necrology,” an exhaustive reference text on more than 7,600 now-deceased major league players, as well as information on the post-career lives and deaths of owners, managers, administrators, umpires, sportswriters, Negro League players, announcers, and broadcasters. Since the book’s release, he continued to conduct research on current deaths among baseball players and created a website, thebbnlive.com, an expansive database of information on the lives of baseball players who died between 1876 and 2014. He has been involved in numerous other sites, including baseballundertaker.com as well as oswaldrelations.com and fodgerelations.com—vast genealogical databases that spotlight his father’s family and his wife’s family, respectively. He has also published nearly 40 copyrighted books on the subject of genealogy.
Prior to the start of his career, Mr. Lee was as good student who obtained a scholarship at the University of California, Berkeley. While in high school, he met his first wife, Virginia Sturzenegger, married her, and began having a family, and subsequently dropped out of college for a few years. However, he returned to his education years later and earned a degree in engineering science at Arizona State University. In the midst of his studies, he became interested in computers and eventually started a company, Diablo Data Service, Inc., which provided bowling statistics for more than 100,000 bowlers in Northern California for a period of time. On his 40th birthday, he graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Science and later received a master’s degree from California Polytechnic State University in Pomona. In addition, he has completed coursework toward a master’s degree in history at Utah State University.
Looking back on his own story and accomplishments, Mr. Lee is proud to have kept busy and productive throughout his long life—and changed things in order to be happy in his work. He has four children, 13 grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren.